from our Preludes

CAB speaks:

You can find Charleyville anyplace in the western world where enough space exists between one human being and another to allow imaginations to run loose --in a grand way or a petty way, depending on your temperament. There is plenty of room for boredom, too. The town limits, however, press in closely. A large metropolitan center may be less than an hour away, yet it seems as remote as the moon. Change comes slowly in Charleyville, if at all.

If you live there, you spend a lot of your time waiting: for a happy break in the monotony, the weather, or your luck; you wait for births, marriages, deaths; you wait for a "for sale" sign on your street to be replaced by a "sold" one, in hopes that a new face will appear at that front door at last, a face belonging to someone you may be able to call 'friend' and really mean it. You wait, most of all, for sufficient funds of courage, money, and energy to leave Charleyville.

The good citizens of this town believe unswervingly in the law of cause and effect. Nothing happens without a good reason. Nothing happens that the wise don't see coming. If no tragedy ever strikes the Smith family, that's proof that the Smiths are prudent, cautious, and morally upright. If the Jones boy turns out bad, surely his folks did something to deserve it. They should've known better than to send him to that damn college in New York. Surely they would have seen it coming if only…

The town motto, probably in Latin or French, translates as 'Damned if you do, damned if you don't'.

*****

CPW speaks:

How well I remember those long hours CAB wrote of, when time hung very heavy on my youthful hands, and I hated every slow-ticking moment!

Entertainment options (in Charleyville) were few. I could retreat to my room and sleep, or listen to records, or dream of other worlds. Music would swiftly carry me to better places, but only after I had exhausted all social possibilities, wept a bit, and resigned myself to being stuck at home yet again. If my father happened to be in a good mood and I asked (begged?) in the right tone of voice, I might even be allowed to use the electric typewriter to work on my stories. That always made me feel more legitimate as a writer, even though I rarely finished any work I started at that point in my life.

Alas, more often than not, even the use of the typewriter could not lighten the sheer torpor of a Sunday afternoon in Charleyville-Sud...


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